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Elizabeth II
Smiling elderly lady with grey hair wearing a matching hat and dress
Elizabeth II in 2007
Reign 6 February 1952 – present
(&0000000000000058.00000058 years, &0000000000000040.00000040 days)
Coronation 2 June 1953 (aged 27)
Predecessor George VI
Heir apparent Charles, Prince of Wales
Prime Ministers See list
Consort Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Issue
Charles, Prince of Wales
Anne, Princess Royal
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex
Full name
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
House House of Windsor
Father George VI
Mother Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Born 21 April 1926 (1926-04-21) (age 83)
Mayfair, London
Signature Handwritten "Elizabeth R" with a tailed z and an underscore
Religion Church of England & Church of Scotland

Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is the Queen regnant of sixteen independent sovereign states known informally as the Commonwealth realms, listed here in order of length of possession by the crown: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. She holds each crown separately and equally in a shared monarchy, as well as acting as Head of the Commonwealth, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England. As a constitutional monarch, she is politically neutral and by convention her role is largely ceremonial.[1]

When Elizabeth was born, the British Empire was a pre-eminent world power, but its influence declined – particularly after the Second World War – and the empire evolved into the modern Commonwealth of Nations. Her father, George VI, was the last Emperor of India. On his death in 1952, Elizabeth became Head of the Commonwealth, and queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon, later renamed Sri Lanka. During her reign, which at 58 years is one of the longest for a British monarch, she became queen of 25 other countries within the Commonwealth as they gained independence from Britain. She has been the sovereign of 32 individual nations, half of which are now republics.

Elizabeth married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in 1947, and the couple have four children and eight grandchildren. In the 1980s and 1990s, the love lives of their children were subject to great press attention, and contributed to increased discontent with the monarchy, which reached its peak on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. Since then, she has recovered public confidence, and her personal popularity remains high.

Contents

Early life

Head and shoulders portrait of a thoughtful-looking toddler with curly, fair hair
Princess Elizabeth at the age of three

Elizabeth was the first child of Prince Albert, Duke of York (later King George VI), and his wife, Elizabeth. She was born by Caesarean section on 21 April 1926 at 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London,[Brandreth 1][Roberts 1] and was baptised in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace by the Archbishop of York, Cosmo Lang, on 29 May.[Hoey 1] Her godparents were her paternal grandparents, King George V and Queen Mary; her aunts, Princess Mary and Lady Elphinstone; her great-great-uncle, Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn; and her maternal grandmother, Cecilia Bowes-Lyon, Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Elizabeth was named after her mother, great-grandmother Alexandra, and grandmother Mary.[Brandreth 2] Her close family called her "Lilibet".[2]

She had a close relationship with her grandfather George V and was credited with aiding in his recovery from illness in 1929.[3][4] Her only sibling was Princess Margaret, born in 1930. The two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford, who was casually known as "Crawfie".[Crawford 1][Shawcross 1] To the dismay of the royal family,[Brandreth 3] Crawford later published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses. The book describes Elizabeth's love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, and her attitude of responsibility.[Brandreth 3] Such observations were echoed by others: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as "a character. She has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant."[Brandreth 4][Shawcross 2] Her cousin Margaret Rhodes described her as "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved".[Brandreth 5]

Heiress presumptive

Portrait in oils of a rosy-cheeked girl with blue eyes and fair hair
Painting by Philip Alexius de László of Princess Elizabeth at the age of seven

As a granddaughter of the monarch in the male line, Elizabeth held the title of a British princess, with the style Her Royal Highness, her full style being Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York. At birth, she was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle, Edward, Prince of Wales, and her father. Although her birth did generate public interest, there was no reason to believe then that she would ever become queen, as it was widely assumed that the Prince of Wales would marry and have children of his own.[Bond 1] In 1936, when her grandfather the King died and her uncle Edward succeeded, she became second in line to the throne after her father. Later that year, Edward abdicated and her father became king. Elizabeth became heiress presumptive, and was thereafter known as Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth.

Elizabeth studied constitutional history with Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College.[Brandreth 6][Crawford 2][Shawcross 3] She learned modern languages, and still speaks French fluently.[5] A Girl Guides company, the 1st Buckingham Palace Company, was formed specifically so Elizabeth could socialise with girls her own age. Later she was enrolled as a Sea Ranger.[6]

Elizabeth met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, in 1934 and again in 1937.[Brandreth 7] After another meeting at the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in July 1939, Elizabeth – though only 13 years old – fell in love with Philip, and they began to exchange letters.[Bond 2][Brandreth 8]

In 1939, the Canadian government wanted Elizabeth to accompany her parents on their upcoming tour of Canada. However, the King decided against this, stating that his daughter was too young to undertake the month-long tour.[7]

Second World War

In September 1939, with the outbreak of the Second World War, Elizabeth and her younger sister, Margaret, stayed at Balmoral Castle, Scotland, from September to Christmas 1939, until they moved to Sandringham House, Norfolk.[Crawford 3] From February to May 1940, they lived at Royal Lodge, Windsor, until moving to Windsor Castle, where they stayed for most of the next five years.[Crawford 4] The suggestion that the two princesses be evacuated to Canada was rejected by Elizabeth's mother; she said, "The children won't go without me. I won't leave without the King. And the King will never leave." [8] The princesses remained at Windsor, where they staged pantomimes at Christmas in aid of the Queen's Wool Fund.[Crawford 5] It was from Windsor that Elizabeth, in 1940, made her first radio broadcast during the BBC's Children's Hour, addressing other children who had been evacuated from the cities.[9] She stated:

We are trying to do all we can to help our gallant sailors, soldiers and airmen, and we are trying, too, to bear our share of the danger and sadness of war. We know, every one of us, that in the end all will be well.[9]

During the war, plans were drawn up to affiliate Elizabeth more closely with Wales, in order to quell the growing influence of Welsh nationalists.[10] In a report to Home Secretary Herbert Morrison, the constitutional expert Edward Iwi proposed appointing Elizabeth as Constable of Caernarfon Castle (a post then held by David Lloyd George); the idea was rejected by Morrison, on the grounds that it might cause conflict between north and south Wales.[10] Morrison did, however, take forward a suggestion by civil servant Thomas Jones to make her patron of the Welsh League of Youth, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, and planned to have her tour Wales as such.[10][11] The idea was rejected by the King, who refused to subject his young daughter to the pressures of official tours and because two leading members of Urdd Gobaith Cymru were conscientious objectors.[10] In 1946, she was made an Ovate of the Welsh Gorsedd of Bards at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.[12]

Young lady wearing overalls and a cap kneels on the ground to change the front-left wheel of a military truck
Elizabeth changes a vehicle wheel during the Second World War

In 1945, 18-year-old Elizabeth began to carry out solo duties, such as reviewing a parade of Canadian airwomen.[7] She joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, as No. 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor. She trained as a driver and mechanic, drove a military truck, and rose to the rank of Junior Commander.[13] She is the last surviving head of state who served in uniform during the Second World War.[14]

At the end of the war in Europe, on Victory in Europe Day, Elizabeth and her sister mingled anonymously with the celebratory crowds in the streets of London. She later said in a rare interview, "we asked my parents if we could go out and see for ourselves. I remember we were terrified of being recognised ... I remember lines of unknown people linking arms and walking down Whitehall, all of us just swept along on a tide of happiness and relief."[Bond 3] Two years later, the Princess made her first official overseas tour, when she accompanied her parents to Southern Africa. On her 21st birthday, in a broadcast to the British Commonwealth from South Africa, she pledged: "I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong."[15]

Marriage

Elizabeth married Philip on 20 November 1947. The couple are second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark and third cousins through Queen Victoria. Before the marriage, Philip renounced his Greek and Danish titles, converted from Greek Orthodoxy to Anglicanism, and adopted the style Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, taking the surname of his mother's family.[Hoey 2] Just before the wedding, he was created Duke of Edinburgh and granted the style of His Royal Highness.[16]

The marriage was not without controversy: Philip had no financial standing, was foreign-born (though a British subject), and had sisters who had married German noblemen with Nazi links.[17] Elizabeth's mother was reported, in later biographies, to have opposed the union initially, even dubbing Philip "The Hun".[18] In later life, however, she told biographer Tim Heald that Philip was "an English gentleman".[19] The country had not yet completely rebounded from the devastation of the war; the Princess still required rationing coupons to buy the material for her gown, designed by Norman Hartnell.[Hoey 3] Elizabeth and Philip received 1347 wedding gifts from around the world.[Hoey 3] Elizabeth's bridesmaids were her sister; her cousin Princess Alexandra of Kent; Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott; Lady Mary Cambridge; Lady Elizabeth Lambart; Philip's cousin The Honourable Pamela Mountbatten; and two maternal cousins, The Honourable Margaret Elphinstone and The Honourable Diana Bowes-Lyon.[20] Her page boys were her young paternal first cousins, Prince William of Gloucester and Prince Michael of Kent.[20] In post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip's three surviving sisters.[21][Hoey 4] Elizabeth's aunt, Princess Mary, Princess Royal, allegedly refused to attend because her brother, the Duke of Windsor (who abdicated in 1936), was not invited due to his marital situation; she gave ill health as the official reason for not attending.[22]

Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles, on 14 November 1948, several weeks after letters patent were issued by her father allowing her children to enjoy a royal and princely status to which they otherwise would not have been entitled.[23][Hoey 5] A second child, Princess Anne, was born in 1950. Though Philip's surname was Mountbatten, the Royal House is named Windsor, and the surname Mountbatten-Windsor was adopted in 1960 for his and Elizabeth's descendants.[24]

Following their wedding, the couple leased Windlesham Moor, until 4 July 1949,[20] when they took up residence at Clarence House. At various times between 1949 and 1951, the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta (at that time a British Protectorate) as a serving Royal Navy officer. He and Elizabeth lived intermittently, for several months at a time, in the Maltese hamlet of Gwardamanġia, at the Villa Gwardamanġia, the rented home of Louis Mountbatten, Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The children remained in Britain.[Brandreth 9]

Reign

Young woman wearing a crown, white ankle-length dress and long velvet and ermine train stands next to a man in military uniform
Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, June 1953

Succession

George VI's health declined during 1951, and Elizabeth was soon frequently standing in for him at public events. In October of that year, she toured Canada, and visited the President of the United States, Harry S. Truman, in Washington, D.C.; on the trip, the Princess carried with her a draft accession declaration for use if the King died while she was out of the United Kingdom.[7][Brandreth 10] In early 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand via Kenya. At Sagana Lodge, about 100 miles north of Nairobi, word arrived of the death of Elizabeth's father on 6 February. Philip broke the news to the new queen.[Brandreth 11][Lacey 1][Shawcross 4] Martin Charteris, then her Assistant Private Secretary, asked her what she intended to be called as monarch, to which she replied: "Elizabeth, of course."[Shawcross 5] Elizabeth was proclaimed queen throughout her realms, and the royal party hastily returned to the United Kingdom. She and the Duke of Edinburgh moved into Buckingham Palace.

In the midst of preparations for the coronation, Princess Margaret informed her sister that she wished to marry Peter Townsend, a divorced commoner sixteen years older than Margaret, with two sons from his previous marriage. The Queen asked them to wait for a year; in the words of Martin Charteris, "the Queen was naturally sympathetic towards the Princess, but I think she thought – she hoped – given time, the affair would peter out."[25] After opposition from the Commonwealth prime ministers, and a British minister's threat of resignation should Margaret and Townsend marry, the Princess decided to abandon her plans with Townsend.[25] Margaret later married Antony Armstrong-Jones, 1st Earl of Snowdon. They were divorced in 1978. She did not remarry.

Despite the death of the Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary, on 24 March 1953, the Queen's coronation went ahead in Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, in accordance with Mary's wishes. The entire ceremony, save for the anointing and communion, was televised throughout the Commonwealth, and watched by an estimated 20 million people in Britain, with 12 million more listening on the radio.[Roberts 2] Elizabeth wore a gown commissioned from Norman Hartnell, which was embroidered with floral emblems for the countries of the Commonwealth: English Tudor rose, Scots thistle, Welsh leek, Irish shamrock, Australian wattle, Canadian maple leaf, New Zealand fern, South African protea, lotus flowers for India and Ceylon, and Pakistan's wheat, cotton, and jute.[26]

Continuing evolution of the Commonwealth

Smiling young woman wearing a tiara, sash and a long formal gown next to an older man wearing full evening dress
Queen Elizabeth with Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert Menzies during her first visit to Australia in 1954

Elizabeth witnessed, over her life, the ongoing transformation of the British Empire into the Commonwealth of Nations. By the time of Elizabeth's accession in 1952, her role as nominal head of multiple independent states was already established. Spanning 1953–54, the Queen and her husband embarked on a six-month around-the-world tour. She became the first reigning monarch of Australia and New Zealand to visit those nations.[27][28] During the tour, crowds were immense; three-quarters of the population of Australia were estimated to have seen the Queen.[Brandreth 12][Shawcross 6] Throughout her reign Elizabeth has undertaken state visits to foreign countries, as well as tours of each Commonwealth country, including attending all Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. Elizabeth II is the most widely-travelled head of state in history.[29]

In 1956, French Prime Minister Guy Mollet and British Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden discussed the possibility of France's joining the Commonwealth. The proposal was never accepted, and the following year France signed the Treaty of Rome, which established the European Economic Community, the precursor of the European Union.[30] In November 1956, Britain and France invaded Egypt in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to capture the Suez canal. Earl Mountbatten of Burma claimed the Queen was opposed to the invasion, though Prime Minister Eden denied it. Eden resigned two months later.[Roberts 3]

The absence of a formal mechanism within the Conservative Party for choosing a leader meant that, following Eden's resignation, it fell to the Queen to decide whom to commission to form a government. Eden recommended that Elizabeth consult Lord Salisbury (the Lord President of the Council). Lord Salisbury and Lord Kilmuir (the Lord Chancellor) consulted the Cabinet, Winston Churchill and the Chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, as a result of which the Queen appointed their recommended candidate: Harold Macmillan. Six years later, Macmillan himself resigned and advised the Queen to appoint the Earl of Home as Prime Minister, advice which she followed.[Roberts 3]

The Suez crisis and the choice of Eden's successor led in 1957 to the first real personal criticism of the Queen. In a magazine, which he owned and edited,[Shawcross 7] Lord Altrincham accused her of being "out of touch".[31] Altrincham was denounced by public figures and physically attacked by members of the public appalled at his comments.[Brandreth 13][Shawcross 8] In 1963, the Queen again came under criticism for appointing the Prime Minister on the advice of a small number of ministers, or a single minister. In 1965, the Conservatives adopted a formal mechanism for choosing a leader, thus relieving her of the duty.[Roberts 3]

In 1957, she made a state visit on behalf of the Commonwealth to the United States, where she addressed the United Nations General Assembly. On the same tour she opened the 23rd Canadian Parliament, becoming the first monarch of Canada to open a parliamentary session. Two years later, on behalf of Canada, she revisited North America. In 1961, she toured Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Iran.[Shawcross 9] During a trip to Ghana, she refused to keep her distance from President Kwame Nkrumah, even though he was a target for assassins.[32] Harold Macmillan wrote at the time: "the Queen has been absolutely determined all through. She is impatient of the attitude towards her to treat her as ... a film star ... She has indeed 'the heart and stomach of a man' ... She loves her duty and means to be a queen."[33]

Two thin ladies wearing dresses to just below the knee and black shoes walk out of a red-brick building in step
Elizabeth (left) with then-First Lady Pat Nixon upon the Nixons' visit to the United Kingdom, 1970

Elizabeth's pregnancies with Princes Andrew and Edward, in 1959 and 1963, marked the only times she did not perform the State Opening of the British Parliament during her reign. She delegated the task to the Lord Chancellor instead.

Elizabeth inaugurated the first Canadian trans-Atlantic telephone cable in 1961, by calling Canadian Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, from Buckingham Palace.[34] In 1969, Elizabeth sent a congratulatory message to the Apollo 11 crew on the first manned lunar landing; the micro-filmed message was left in a metal container on the moon's surface. She later met the crew at Buckingham Palace.[5]

The 1960s and 1970s saw an acceleration in the decolonisation of Africa and the Caribbean. Over 20 countries gained independence from Britain as part of a planned transition to self-government. In 1965, however, Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith declared unilateral independence from Britain in opposition to moves toward majority black rule. Although the Queen dismissed Smith in a formal declaration and the international community applied sanctions against Rhodesia, Smith's regime survived for another eleven years.[Bond 4]

In February 1974, an inconclusive United Kingdom general election result meant that, in theory, the outgoing British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, whose Conservative party had won the popular vote, could stay in office if he formed a coalition government with the Liberals. Rather than immediately resign as Prime Minister, Heath explored this option, and resigned only when discussions on forming a cooperative government foundered, after which the Queen asked the Leader of the Opposition, Labour's Harold Wilson, to form a government.[Shawcross 10]

A year later, at the height of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was dismissed from his post by Governor-General Sir John Kerr after the Opposition-controlled Senate rejected Whitlam's budget proposals.[Bond 5][Shawcross 11] The Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives, Gordon Scholes, appealed to the Queen on behalf of the house to reverse Kerr's decision, on the basis that Whitlam's Labor Party still enjoyed the confidence of the house. Elizabeth declined, stating that it was not appropriate for her to intervene in affairs that are reserved for the Governor-General alone by the Constitution of Australia.[35] The crisis fuelled Australian republicanism.[Bond 6][Shawcross 12]

Silver Jubilee

In 1977, Elizabeth marked the Silver Jubilee of her accession. Events took place in many countries throughout the Queen's associated Commonwealth tour, and included a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral attended by dignitaries and other heads of state. Parties were held throughout the Commonwealth realms, culminating in several Jubilee Days in the United Kingdom, in June. In Britain, commemorative stamps were issued. The Jubilee Line of the London Underground (though opened in 1979) was named for the anniversary, as were several other public locations and spaces, including the Jubilee Gardens in London's South Bank. In Canada, the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal was issued. In 1978, she endured a state visit by the brutal communist dictator of Romania, Nicolae Ceauşescu,[Roberts 4][Shawcross 13] but the following year brought two blows: one was the unmasking of Anthony Blunt, Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures, as a communist spy; the other was the assassination of her relative and in-law Earl Mountbatten of Burma by the Provisional Irish Republican Army.[Roberts 5]

According to Paul Martin, Sr., by the end of the 1970s the Queen was worried that the Crown "had little meaning for" Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.[36] Tony Benn said that the Queen found Trudeau to be "rather disappointing".[36] Trudeau's supposed republicanism seemed to be confirmed by his antics, such as sliding down banisters at Buckingham Palace and pirouetting behind the Queen's back in 1977, and the removal of various Canadian royal symbols during his term of office.[36] Martin—along with John Roberts and Mark MacGuigan—was sent to the UK in 1980 to discuss the patriation of the Canadian constitution. The Queen was interested in the constitutional debate, particularly after the failure of Bill C-60, which would have affected her role as head of state.[36] The entire party found the Queen "better informed on both the substance and the politics of Canada's constitutional case than any of the British politicians or bureaucrats".[36] As a result of the constitutional patriation, the role of the British parliament in the Canadian constitution was removed, but the monarchy was retained. Trudeau said in his memoirs: "The Queen favoured my attempt to reform the Constitution. I was always impressed not only by the grace she displayed in public at all times, but by the wisdom she showed in private conversation."[37]

1980s

Lady wearing red uniform on a black horse flanked by two other riders dressed as guardsmen
Elizabeth riding "Burmese" at a Trooping the Colour ceremony

During the 1981 Trooping the Colour ceremony, six blank cartridges were fired at the Queen from close range as she rode down The Mall on her horse "Burmese".[38] Nobody was hurt, and the 17-year-old assailant, Marcus Sarjeant, was later sentenced to five years' imprisonment.[39] The Canadian House of Commons passed a motion praising the Queen's bravery.[33] The following year, the Queen found herself in another precarious situation when she awoke in her bedroom at Buckingham Palace to find a strange man, Michael Fagan, in the room with her. Remaining calm throughout, for about seven minutes, and through two calls to the palace police switchboard, Elizabeth spoke to Fagan while he sat at the foot of her bed until assistance arrived.[40] From April to September that year, the Queen remained anxious[Bond 7] but proud[Shawcross 14] of her son, Prince Andrew, who was serving with British forces during the Falklands War. Though she hosted President Ronald Reagan at Windsor Castle in 1982, and visited his Californian ranch in 1983, she was angered when his administration ordered the invasion of Grenada, one of her Caribbean realms, without her foreknowledge.[Bond 8]

During Margaret Thatcher's tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 1980s, it was rumoured that Elizabeth was worried that Thatcher's economic policies fostered social divisions, and was reportedly alarmed by high unemployment, a series of riots, the violence of a miners' strike,[41] and Thatcher's refusal to apply sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.[Shawcross 15][42] The Queen was even said to "cordially dislike" Thatcher.[43] It was claimed that Thatcher told Brian Walden, "the Queen is the kind of woman who could vote SDP [the Social Democratic Party—Thatcher's political opponents]."[41] Despite such speculation, Thatcher later conveyed her personal admiration for the Queen. In the BBC documentary Queen & Country, Thatcher described the Queen as "marvellous" and "a perfect lady" who "always knows just what to say", referring, in particular, to her final meeting as prime minister.[44] Belying reports of acrimony between them, after Thatcher retired from politics, Elizabeth conferred on her two personal gifts of the Sovereign: the Order of Merit and the Order of the Garter.[Roberts 6][Shawcross 16] Both the Queen and Prince Philip attended Thatcher's 80th birthday party.[45]

In 1991, Elizabeth became the first British monarch to address a joint session of the United States Congress.[46] The following year, she attempted to save the failing marriage of her eldest son, Charles, by counselling him and his wife, Diana, Princess of Wales, to patch up their differences.[Brandreth 14] She was unsuccessful, and the couple formally separated.

Annus horribilis

Elderly couple in evening wear. She holds a pair of spectacles to her mouth in a thoughtful pose.
Prince Philip and Elizabeth II, October 1992

The Queen called 1992 her "annus horribilis" in a speech on 24 November 1992.[47] The year saw her daughter divorced, one son separated and another whose marriage was rocky. Windsor Castle suffered severe fire damage, and the monarchy received increased criticism and public scrutiny.[Brandreth 15][Roberts 7][Shawcross 17] In an unusually personal speech, she said that any institution must expect criticism, but suggested it be done with "a touch of humour, gentleness and understanding".[Brandreth 16]

In the ensuing years, public revelations on the state of Charles and Diana's marriage continued.[Brandreth 17][Roberts 8][Shawcross 18] Eventually, in consultation with the British Prime Minister John Major, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, her private secretary Robert Fellowes, and her husband, she wrote to both Charles and Diana saying that a divorce was now desirable.[Brandreth 18] A year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. At the time, the Queen was on holiday at Balmoral with her son and grandchildren. In their grief, Diana's two sons wanted to attend church, and so their grandparents took them that morning.[Brandreth 19] For five days, the Queen and the Duke shielded their grandsons from the ensuing press interest by keeping them at Balmoral, where they could grieve in private.[Brandreth 19][Bond 9] The royal family's seclusion caused public dismay.[Brandreth 20][Bond 10][Roberts 9][Shawcross 19] Pressured by her family, friends, the new British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and public reaction, the Queen agreed to a live broadcast to the world on 5 September.[Brandreth 21] In it, she expressed admiration for Diana, and her feelings "as a grandmother" for Princes William and Harry.[Bond 11][Brandreth 22] The public mood was transformed by the broadcast from hostility to respect.[Bond 11]

Golden Jubilee and beyond

Seated elderly lady wearing spectacles, a tiara and a ball gown holds a wine glass of water and smiles into the eyes of a standing middle-aged man in evening wear who leans down towards her with his own glass
Elizabeth II and George W. Bush share a toast during a state dinner at the White House, 7 May 2007

In 2002, as Elizabeth marked her Golden Jubilee as queen, her sister and mother died in February and March, respectively. She again undertook an extensive tour of her realms, which began in Jamaica in February, where she called the farewell banquet "memorable" after a power cut plunged the King's House, the official residence of the Governor-General, into darkness.[Brandreth 23] As in 1977, there were street parties and commemorative events, and monuments were named to honour the occasion. Though Elizabeth has enjoyed good health throughout her life, in 2003 she had keyhole surgery on both knees, and in June 2005 she cancelled several engagements after contracting a bad cold. In October 2006, the Queen cancelled her appointment to officially open the new Emirates Stadium, because of a strained back muscle that had been troubling her since the summer.[48] In December, there were rumours of ill health when she was seen in public with a plaster on her right hand.[49] She had been bitten by one of her corgis while she was separating two that were fighting.[50]

In May 2007, the Queen was reported to be "exasperated and frustrated" by the policies of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.[51] Elizabeth was rumoured to have shown concern that the British Armed Forces were overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan, and she was supposed to have raised concerns over rural and countryside issues with Blair repeatedly.[51] Elizabeth was, however, reported to admire Blair's efforts to achieve peace in Northern Ireland.[52] On 20 March 2008, at the Church of Ireland St Patrick's Cathedral, Armagh, the Queen attended the first Maundy Service held outside of England and Wales.[53]

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2007; their marriage is the longest of any British monarch. The Queen's reign is longer than those of her four immediate predecessors combined (Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII, and George VI). She is the third-longest-reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, the second-longest-serving current monarch of a sovereign state (after King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand), and the oldest reigning British monarch. She has no intention of abdicating,[54] though the proportion of public duties performed by Prince Charles may increase as Elizabeth reduces her commitments.[55]

Elizabeth could become the longest-lived British head of state (surpassing Richard Cromwell) on 29 January 2012 at age 85, the longest-reigning monarch in British history and the longest-reigning queen regnant in world history (surpassing Queen Victoria) on 10 September 2015 at age 89, and the longest-reigning monarch in European history (surpassing King Louis XIV of France) on 26 May 2024 at age 98.

If still reigning, Elizabeth will again address the United Nations on 6 July 2010 as queen of all of her realms,[56] and celebrate in 2012 her Diamond Jubilee as queen, marking 60 years on the throne. Queen Victoria in 1897 is the only other British monarch to have celebrated a Diamond Jubilee.

Public perception and character

Two riders on black horses: both riders wear tweed jackets, jodhpurs and riding boots. The gentleman is bare-headed; the lady wears a headscarf.
Elizabeth II and Ronald Reagan riding at Windsor, 1982

Since Elizabeth rarely gives interviews, little is known of her personal feelings. As a constitutional monarch, Elizabeth has not expressed her own political opinions in a public forum. She does have a deep sense of religious and civic duty, and takes her coronation oath seriously.[57][Shawcross 20] Her clothes consist mostly of solid-colour overcoats and decorative hats, which allow her to be seen easily in a crowd.[58] Her main leisure interests include equestrianism, photography, and dogs, especially her Pembroke Welsh Corgis.[5]

In the 1950s, as a young woman at the start of her reign, Elizabeth was depicted as a glamorous "fairytale Queen".[Bond 12] After the trauma of the war, it was a time of hope, a period of progress and achievement heralding a "new Elizabethan age".[Bond 13][Roberts 10][Shawcross 21] Lord Altrincham's accusation in 1957 that she was a "priggish schoolgirl" was an extremely rare criticism.[Bond 14][Shawcross 22] In the late 1960s, attempts to portray a more modern image of monarchy were made in the television documentary Royal Family, and by televising Prince Charles's investiture as Prince of Wales.[Bond 15][Roberts 11] At her silver jubilee, the crowds and celebrations were genuinely enthusiastic,[Bond 16][Roberts 12][Shawcross 23] but in the 1980s public criticism of the royal family increased, as the personal and working lives of Elizabeth's children came under media scrutiny.[Bond 17][Roberts 13] Elizabeth's popularity sank to a low point in the 1990s; under pressure from public opinion she began to pay income tax for the first time, and Buckingham Palace was opened to the public.[Bond 9] Discontent with the monarchy reached its peak on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, though the Queen's popularity rebounded after her live broadcast to the world five days after Diana's death.[Bond 9] In November 1999, a referendum in Australia on the future of the monarchy favoured its retention.[Roberts 14][Shawcross 24] As her Golden Jubilee year began, the media speculated whether it would be a success or a failure.[Bond 18] The year began sombrely with the death of Elizabeth's sister and mother, but a million people attended each day of the three-day main Jubilee celebration in London.[Bond 19] The enthusiasm shown by the public for Elizabeth was greater than many journalists had predicted.[Bond 20] Polls in 2006 revealed strong support for Elizabeth; the majority of respondents desired that she remain on the throne until her death, and many felt that she had become an institution in herself.[59] Referenda in Tuvalu in 2008 and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009 both rejected proposals to abolish the monarchy.[60]

Finances

View across a pond to a large Victorian mansion surrounded by lawns and shrubbery
Sandringham House, Elizabeth's private residence in Sandringham, Norfolk

Elizabeth's personal fortune has been the subject of speculation for many years. Forbes magazine estimated her net worth at around GB£270 million (US$450 million) in 2009,[61] but official Buckingham Palace statements in 1993 called estimates of £100 million "grossly overstated".[62][Hoey 6] The Royal Collection, which includes artworks and the Crown Jewels, is not owned by the Queen personally and is held in trust,[63][64] as are the occupied palaces in the United Kingdom such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle,[65] and the Duchy of Lancaster, a property portfolio valued at £323 million in 2009.[66] As with many of her predecessors, Elizabeth is reported to dislike Buckingham Palace as a residence, and prefers Windsor Castle.[54] Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle are privately owned by the Queen.[65] Income from the British Crown Estate—with holdings of £6 billion in 2009[67]—is transferred to the British treasury in return for Civil List payments. Both the Crown Estate and the Crown Land of Canada—comprising 89% of Canada's area[68]—are owned by the Sovereign in trust for the nation, and cannot be sold or owned by Elizabeth in a private capacity.

Religion

Aside from her official religious role as Supreme Governor of the established Church of England, Elizabeth personally worships with that church and with the national Church of Scotland.[69] She regularly attends Sunday service at Crathie Kirk when in Balmoral.[70] Frequently, the Queen will add a personal note about her faith to her annual Royal Christmas Message broadcast to the Commonwealth, such as in 2000, when she spoke about the theological significance of the millennium marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ:

To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example.[71][Shawcross 25]

Elizabeth also demonstrated support for inter-faith relations, often meeting with leaders of other religions, and granting her personal patronage to the Council of Christians and Jews.[72]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

See adjacent text Capital letter E surmounted by a crown and surrounded by a wreath of Tudor roses, in gold on a blue background
Arms 1944–1952
The Queen's Personal Flag

Titles and styles

Elizabeth has held titles throughout her life, as a granddaughter of the monarch, as a daughter of the monarch, through her husband's titles, and eventually as Sovereign. In common parlance, she is The Queen or Her Majesty. Officially, she has a distinct title in each of her realms: Queen of Canada in Canada, Queen of Australia in Australia, etc. In the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, which are Crown dependencies rather than separate realms, she is known as Duke of Normandy and Lord of Man respectively. Additional styles include Defender of the Faith and Duke of Lancaster. When in conversation with the Queen, the practice is to initially address her as Your Majesty and thereafter as Ma'am (to rhyme with "ham").[73]

Elizabeth has received honours and awards from countries around the world, and has held honorary military positions throughout the Commonwealth, both before and after her accession.

Arms

From 21 April 1944,[74] Elizabeth's arms consisted of a lozenge bearing the royal coat of arms, differenced with a label of three points argent, the centre bearing a Tudor Rose, and the first and third a cross of St. George.[75] After her accession as Sovereign, she adopted the royal coat of arms undifferenced. The design of the shield is also used on the Royal Standard of the United Kingdom. Elizabeth has personal flags for use in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, and elsewhere.[76]

Issue

Name Birth Marriage Issue
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales 14 November 1948 29 July 1981
Divorced 28 August 1996
Lady Diana Spencer Prince William of Wales
Prince Henry of Wales
9 April 2005 Camilla Parker-Bowles
Princess Anne, Princess Royal 15 August 1950 14 November 1973
Divorced 28 April 1992
Mark Phillips Peter Phillips
Zara Phillips
12 December 1992 Timothy Laurence
Prince Andrew, Duke of York 19 February 1960 23 July 1986
Divorced 30 May 1996
Sarah Ferguson Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex 10 March 1964 19 June 1999 Sophie Rhys-Jones Lady Louise Windsor
Viscount Severn

Ancestry

See also


References

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  • Bond, Jennie (2006). Elizabeth: Eighty Glorious Years. London: Carlton Publishing Group. ISBN 1844422607
  1. ^ p. 8
  2. ^ p. 10
  3. ^ p.10
  4. ^ p. 66
  5. ^ p. 96
  6. ^ p. 96
  7. ^ p. 115
  8. ^ p. 188
  9. ^ a b c p. 134
  10. ^ p. 134
  11. ^ a b p. 134
  12. ^ p. 22
  13. ^ p. 35
  14. ^ p. 35
  15. ^ pp. 66–67, 84, 87–89
  16. ^ p. 97
  17. ^ p. 117
  18. ^ p. 156
  19. ^ pp. 166–167
  20. ^ p. 157
  • Brandreth, Gyles (2004). Philip and Elizabeth: Portrait of a Marriage. London: Century. ISBN 0712661034
  1. ^ p. 103
  2. ^ p. 103
  3. ^ a b pp. 108–110
  4. ^ p. 105
  5. ^ pp. 105–106
  6. ^ p. 124
  7. ^ pp. 133–139
  8. ^ pp. 132–136, 166–169
  9. ^ pp. 226–238
  10. ^ pp. 240–241
  11. ^ pp. 245–247
  12. ^ p. 278
  13. ^ p. 374
  14. ^ p. 349
  15. ^ p. 377
  16. ^ p. 377
  17. ^ p. 356
  18. ^ p. 357
  19. ^ a b p. 358
  20. ^ p. 358
  21. ^ pp. 358–359
  22. ^ p. 359
  23. ^ p. 31
  1. ^ p. 26
  2. ^ p. 85
  3. ^ pp. 104–114
  4. ^ pp. 114–119
  5. ^ pp. 137–141
  • Hoey, Brian (2002). Her Majesty: Fifty Regal Years. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0006531369
  1. ^ p. 40
  2. ^ pp. 55–56
  3. ^ a b p. 58
  4. ^ p. 59
  5. ^ pp. 69–70
  6. ^ Lord Chamberlain Lord Airlie quoted p. 225
  1. ^ p. 74
  2. ^ p. 82
  3. ^ a b c p. 84
  4. ^ pp. 88–89
  5. ^ pp. 88–89
  6. ^ p. 101
  7. ^ p. 94
  8. ^ p. 94
  9. ^ p. 98
  10. ^ p. 82
  11. ^ pp. 84–86
  12. ^ p. 87
  13. ^ p. 91
  14. ^ p. 101
  • Shawcross, William (2002). Queen and Country. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 0771080565
  1. ^ p. 21
  2. ^ pp. 21–22
  3. ^ p. 25
  4. ^ p.16
  5. ^ Charteris quoted p. 17
  6. ^ p. 59
  7. ^ p. 75
  8. ^ p. 76
  9. ^ p. 83
  10. ^ pp. 109–110
  11. ^ p. 110
  12. ^ p. 110
  13. ^ p. 178
  14. ^ p. 127
  15. ^ pp. 129–132
  16. ^ p. 139
  17. ^ p. 204
  18. ^ p. 168
  19. ^ p. 8
  20. ^ pp. 194–195
  21. ^ p. 50
  22. ^ p. 76
  23. ^ pp. 114–117
  24. ^ p. 218
  25. ^ pp. 236–237
  • Lacey, Robert (2003). Monarch: The Life and Reign of Elizabeth II. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0743236696
  1. ^ pp. 150–151
Further reading
  • Erickson, Carolly (2004). Lillibet: An Intimate Portrait of Elizabeth II. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312287348
  • Pimlott, Ben (2002). The Queen: Elizabeth II and the Monarchy. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0007114362

External links



Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom article)

From Wikiquote

We are a moderate, pragmatic people, more comfortable with practice than theory.

Queen Elizabeth II (born April 21, 1926) is Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Grenada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu. She is head of the Commonwealth and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Sourced

  • I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.
  • My Husband and I....
    • Thought by many to be her catchphrase, but she does not use it much presently. [1]
  • 1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an 'Annus Horribilis'.
  • We are a moderate, pragmatic people, more comfortable with practice than theory.
    • Speech in reply to Addresses from both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall in the year of Her Golden Jubilee (30 April 2002)
  • Football's a difficult business and aren't they prima donnas?
    • The Queen gives her opinion to Premier League chairman Sir David Richards, as quoted in BBC News (2 January 2007)]

External links

Wikisource
Wikisource has original text related to:

Simple English

File:Queen Elisabeth
Queen Elizabeth on a "walkabout" to meet members of the public

Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; born 21 April 1926) is the Queen of sixteen countries in the world: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. She is the queen of each country separately, and all sixteen are independent countries. She became Queen when her father, King George VI, died on 6 February 1952.

The countries of which she is Queen are known as Commonwealth realms. Their total population is over 129 million. Elizabeth II lives in the United Kingdom. In all the other countries where she is queen, a person has been chosen to represent her. This person is known as the Governor General.

Elizabeth II is Queen and is interested in the running of her countries, but she does not tell the Governments what to do. She has regular meetings with people from her Governments, but it is they who run the countries. She performs ceremonies for the governments, gives out honours, and visits and supports many charities.

Since 1947, the Queen has been married to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip was born as prince of Greece and Denmark. Just before they were married, Prince Philip became a citizen of the United Kingdom, and used the name Philip Mountbatten. Prince Philip became the Duke of Edinburgh on the day he married, and became a Prince of the United Kingdom in 1957. The Queen and Prince Philip have four children and eight grandchildren.

Contents

Early life

Elizabeth was born at 17 Bruton Street, in Mayfair, London, on 21 April 1926. She was the oldest child of Prince Albert, Duke of York and Elizabeth, the Duchess of York. Her father was the second son of King George V and brother to the Prince of Wales. No one knew, at that time, that one day he would become King George VI. His wife, the Duchess of York, was the daughter of a Scottish lord. Her name was the Hon. Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. She had grown up in one of Scotland's most famous castles, Glamis Castle.

Princess Elizabeth was baptised in the Private Chapel in the grounds of Buckingham Palace (it was destroyed during World War II) by the Archbishop of York. She was named after her mother, while her two middle names are those of her father's grandmother, Queen Alexandra, and her grandmother, Queen Mary. As a child, her family called her "Lilibet".[1] She was very fond of her grandfather, George V, and it is said that she helped him recover from a serious illness in 1929.[2][3]

Princess Elizabeth had one sister Princess Margaret, who was born in 1930. The two young princesses were educated at home. They had a governess whose name was Marion Crawford, but was often called "Crawfie".[4] The princesses had a special history teacher from Eton College, and a teacher of modern languages. Both princesses learnt to speak French very well.[5] Because the Princess would one day be the Head of the Church of England, she was taught religion by The Archbishop of Canterbury. The Queen has always been a devout member of the Church of England.[6]

File:Queen Mary with Princess Elizabeth and
Princess Elizabeth, with her grandmother, Queen Mary, and her sister, Princess Margaret Rose

As a granddaughter of the British sovereign (king), the princess was called "Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York". At the time of her birth, she was third in the line of succession to the throne. This meant that if the king died, then the next in line was her uncle, the Prince of Wales and then her father, the Duke of York, and then Princess Elizabeth. But when she was born, there was no reason for people to believe that she would become queen. Everyone thought that one day, her uncle would get married and have children. But even though her uncle married, he and his wife never had children.

Her grandfather, King George V, died in 1936. Her uncle became King Edward VIII, but only for a short time. He wanted to marry a woman who was divorced. Because (at that time) this was against the law for the king, he abdicated (gave up his throne). His brother, the Duke of York, became King George VI. Elizabeth then became the next in line, the heir presumptive to the throne. (The throne that a ruler sits on, and the crown that they wear are often talked about as symbols for their power.) It was at this time that her grandmother Queen Mary and her mother, who was now called Queen Elizabeth, realised that the Princess's education in history, religion and languages was very important. Queen Mary also gave the Princess lots of good advice on how to behave like a Queen. It was clear that, unless her parents produced a male child, one day Princess Elizabeth would be Queen, not as the wife to a king, but in her own right, like her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria who had reigned for 63 years.

When Elizabeth was thirteen years old, the Second World War broke out. Because London was being bombed, the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were "evacuated" (moved to safety) to Windsor Castle in Berkshire. It was suggested that they should be sent to Canada but their mother said: "The children won't go without me. I won't leave the King. And the King will never leave [England]."[7]

In 1940, Princess Elizabeth made her first radio broadcast during the BBC's Children's Hour. She spoke to other children who had been evacuated. When she was 13 years old, she first met her future husband, Prince Philip of Greece. She fell in love with him and began writing to him when he was in the Royal Navy.[8]

Military career

In 1945, Princess Elizabeth asked her father to let her work for the war effort. She joined the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service, as No 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor. She trained as a driver, and drove a military truck.[9][10] She enjoyed training with other young women, and decided to send her own children to school rather than have them educated at home, the way she and her sister were. The Princess Elizabeth was the first, and so far only, female member of the royal family to actually serve in the armed forces, although other royal women have been given honorary ranks.[11] During the Victory celebrations in London, she and her sister, Princess Margaret, went out into the crowd after midnight to celebrate with everyone else.[12][13]

After the war, in 1947, Elizabeth made her first official overseas visit. She went with her parent to South Africa. She and her father, went with Prime Minister Jan Smuts to the top of Table Mountain by cable car. On her 21st birthday, she made a broadcast to the British Commonwealth and Empire, pledging:[14]

I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.

The Queen has military advisors from each branch of the armed forces. For the past forty years her chief advisor has been Admiral of the Fleet Lord Rivers, 5th Duke of Meagher. Rivers holds the appointment of First and Principle Aide-de-Camp to Queen Elizabeth II; Advisor of State. Vice Admiral N.E. Johnsen serves as the Chief of Staff to Lord Rivers and was awarded the Order of Meagher in 2007 for his service to the Crown. The two admirals have no role in military decion-making.

Marriage

Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on 20 November 1947. The couple are distantly related to each other, through Christian IX of Denmark and Queen Victoria. Prince Philip was not rich, he was Greek Orthodox and his sister had married someone who was thought to be a Nazi,[needs proof] so there were some people who were not happy about the marriage. But most people throughout the Commonwealth were full of joy. Even though people were still very poor because of the war, the royal couple received 2,500 wedding presents from all around the world. Many people helped the Princess save up "coupons", so she could buy a beautiful wedding dress.[15] The wedding was held in Westminster Abbey. Princess Margaret was one of the nine bridesmaids.

After their wedding, the couple lived mainly at Clarence House in London. For a time, the Duke of Edinburgh was stationed in Malta as a serving Royal Navy officer, so they lived in Malta at a house of Lord Mountbatten of Burma.

On 14 November 1948, Elizabeth gave birth to her first child, Charles. The couple had four children:

Although the Royal House is named Windsor, the princes and princess often use the name Mountbatten-Windsor.[16]

Succession

In 1951, the King's health became too bad to go to many public events. Princess Elizabeth began to make official visits for him. She visited Greece, Italy and Malta (where Philip was then stationed) during that year. In October, she made a tour of Canada and visited President Harry S Truman in Washington, D.C. In January 1952, Elizabeth and Philip set out for a tour of Australia and New Zealand. They had reached Kenya when a message arrived telling of the death of the King, on 6 February 1952, from lung cancer. Elizabeth and Philip were staying at "Sagana Lodge" in Kenya when she was told of her father's death and that now she had succeeded to the throne. It was Prince Philip who broke the news of her father's death to Elizabeth.[17] They returned to the United Kingdom immediately by plane.

Elizabeth was proclaimed Queen in Canada first, (an announcement was read to tell the people) on 6 February, 1952. The following day, on February 7 the proclamation was read at St. James's Palace in London.[18]

Elizabeth II's coronation (crowning) took place in Westminster Abbey, on 2 June 1953. Her coronation gown, designed by Norman Hartnell, was embroidered with the floral symbols of the countries of the Commonwealth: the Tudor rose of England, the thistle of Scotland, the leek of Wales, the shamrock of Ireland, the wattle of Australia, the maple leaf of Canada, the fern of New Zealand, the protea of South Africa, two lotus flowers for India and Ceylon, and wheat, cotton and jute for Pakistan. [19]

Life as Queen

File:Canadians acclaim their royal guests. School children were among the most vociferous greeters of the royal couple throughout the
The Queen and Prince Philip are greeted by Canadian school children, on the Coronation Tour.

After the Coronation, The Queen and Prince Philip moved into Buckingham Palace, in central London, the main official home of the monarch. But it is believed that, like Queen Victoria, she does not like living at the Palace much. She has always thought of Windsor Castle, as her real home.[20]

In 1953, the Queen and Prince Philip, set off on a six-month, around the world tour, in the Royal Yacht, Britannia. Elizabeth became the first monarch to "circumnavigate" (sail around) the globe. She also became the first reigning monarch to visit Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Since then, Elizabeth has made many trips. In October 1957, she made a "state visit" (an official visit) to the United States, and spoke to the United Nations General Assembly. She then toured Canada, and she became the first monarch to open the nation's Parliament. In February 1961, she visited Ankara in Turkey, and toured India, Iran, Pakistan and Nepal for the first time. Since then the Queen has made state visits to most Commonwealth countries, most European countries and to many countries outside Europe.

In 1969, Elizabeth II sent one of 73 Apollo 11 Goodwill Messages to NASA for the historic first lunar landing. The message is etched onto a tiny silicon disc and still rests on the lunar surface today. She greeted the Apollo 11 crew during their tour of the world.[21] In 1991, she became the first British monarch to speak to a joint session of the United States Congress during another state visit to that country. She regularly attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings. Elizabeth II is the most widely-travelled head of state in history.[22][23]

File:Personal flag of Queen Elizabeth
The Queen's personal standard, which is used in her role as Head of the Commonwealth.

Changes to the Commonwealth

When Elizabeth became Queen on 6 February 1952, she was officially Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon (now called Sri Lanka). These were the Commonwealth Countries. There were many more countries that she also ruled, because they belonged to the British Empire. Altogether, she was sovereign of 32 nations. One by one, many of the countries became independent. They now have their own governments. Some of the countries are republics and have a president as "Head of State". Some of them are now independent monarchies that still have the Queen as "Head of State". Queen Elizabeth II is the only monarch of more than one independent nation. The old British Empire became the Commonwealth of Nations, which includes both monarchies and republics. It is now called "The Commonwealth", and the Queen is the Head of the Commonwealth. She works hard to keep peace and good communication between all the nations that are members.

The Queen is particularly fond of visiting Canada. She has called Canada her "home away from home". She also said "I am pleased to think that there exists in our Commonwealth a country where I can express myself officially in French," and, "whenever you sing [the French words of] 'O Canada' you are reminded that you come of a proud race."[24][25]

Relationships with her governments and other countries

Ever since she became the Queen, Elizabeth has spent about three hours every day "doing the boxes". The "boxes" are two large red boxes that are brought to her from the Parliament every day. The are full of state papers sent to her from her various departments, embassies, and government offices.[26] One of the most famous photos taken of Elizabeth as a teenager shows her with her father, the King, learning about "the boxes". Because she has been doing this since 1952, she knows a great deal about the government of the UK.

When the Queen is in London, she meets with her Prime Minister once a week, to discuss things that are affecting the nation. One Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher wrote: "Anyone who imagines that [these meetings] are a mere formality or confined to social niceties is quite wrong; they are quietly business like and Her Majesty brings to bear a formidable grasp of current issues and breadth of experience."

The Queen also has regular meetings with the First Minister of Scotland and other Ministers of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. She also has meetings with Prime Ministers and Ministers of her other realms, when she is in their country, or when they visit London. She takes a strong interest in the government of her other realms. When Paul Martin, Sr. went to London to discuss the Constitution of Canada, he said later that the Queen knew and understood far more about the Canadian Constitution than any of the British politicians. [27]

File:George W. Bush toasts Elizabeth II
The Queen is toasted by George Bush at the White House in 2007.

In the late 1990s, there were "referendums" in which the people of Scotland and Wales were asked if they wanted parliaments that were separate from the parliament of the United Kingdom. This was called a "devolution policy". As a result, the new Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly of Wales, were set up. The Queen opened the first sessions of these two bodies.

Recently, some people in Australia want a republic, with an elected or appointed President as Head of State instead of the Queen. In 1999, the people of Australia were asked in a referendum whether they wanted a republic. The decision of the people was to remain a monarchy. The Queen visited Australia the following year and said that she would continue to serve Australians as she had done for 48 years.

The Queen surprised Mary McAleese, who is now President of Ireland, by inviting her to lunch with the Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen wanted to hear her views about Northern Ireland. Mary McAleese, said that the Queen was "a dote" which means "a really lovely person (in Hiberno-English).[28]

Elizabeth II has warm friendly relationships with many world leaders. Her first Prime Minister of Australia, Sir Robert Menzies called her "My Dear" and recited a poem that said "I will love her till I die". She has friendships with Mary Robinson, President of Ireland (1990-1997) and George W. Bush, who was the first American President in more than 80 years to stay at Buckingham Palace. Nelson Mandela, in the BBC documentary, called her "my friend, Elizabeth".

In May 2007, the Queen and Prince Philip made a state visit to the United States, in honour of the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement.

The Queen as a person

Faith and Duty

Elizabeth II, as the Monarch of the United Kingdom, is the "Supreme Governor" of the Church of England and sworn protector of the Church of Scotland. In fact, although she is very interested in the Church of England, she gives authority to the Archbishop of Canterbury. She sometimes attends the yearly meeting of "the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland".

The Queen has a deep religious faith which she sometimes talks about in public. In her Christmas Day television broadcast in 2000, she talked about the Millennium as marking the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. She said:

To many of us, our beliefs are of fundamental importance. For me, the teachings of Christ, and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life. I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example.[29]

The Queen regularly goes to church at St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. When she stays at Sandringham House, in Norfolk she goes to St. Mary Magdalene Church. When the Royal Family is holidaying at Balmoral Castle, they go to Crathie Kirk. When the Queen is at Holyroodhouse, which is the Royal Palace in Edinburgh, she goes to Canongate Kirk.

The Queen often meets with leaders from other religions as well. In 1980 she became the first British Monarch to visit the Vatican, where she was welcomed by Pope John Paul II. She made another visit twenty years later on October 17, 2000.[30] Queen Elizabeth II is Patron of "The Council of Christians and Jews" in the UK.[31]

The Queen has shown a very strong sense of duty, ever since she was a girl. The "Coronation Oath" that she would serve her people all the days of her life has always been very important to her. Some people think that now that she is old, perhaps she will retire ("abdicate") and let her son Prince Charles take the throne. People who know her well, including Prince Charles, have said that this will never happen.[32]

Courage

[[File:|thumb|250px|The Queen with Prince Charles and Prince Philip at the "Trooping of the Colour" in 1986, riding her favourite horse, Burmese.]] The Queen has often shown her courage, ever since she joined the military at 18, and drove an ambulance in London, while the city was being bombed. During a trip to Ghana in 1961 she was warned that it was dangerous to be near the President Kwame Nkrumah because people wanted to assassinate him. But she refused to be rude to him by keeping away. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Harold Macmillan wrote that the Queen got very impatient with people if they tried to treat her like "a film star".

In 1964, when the Queen was invited to Quebec, there were fears for her safety. There were suggestions that the tour should be cancelled. But The Queen’s Private Secretary replied that the Queen would be horrified if she was stopped from going to Quebec because of extremists.[33] During the Trooping the Colour in 1981, six rounds of blanks were fired at her from close range as she rode her horse down The Mall. She ducked before continuing the activity.

In 1982, a man called Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace in the morning, while the Queen's Police Guard was walking the dogs. He set off an alarm but one of the staff turned it off, because they thought it was faulty. Fagan then wandered around, drank a bottle of wine and cut his hand on a broken ashtray. When he found the Queen's bedroom he woke her up, and sat on the end of the bed, to tell her his problems. The Queen got up to get him some cigarettes and was able to call a large "footman" (a servant) who held onto the man until the guards came. Michael Fagan was charged with stealing the wine.

Family relations

Throughout her long reign, Queen Elizabeth II has been supported in her many official duties by her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Prince Philip made an Oath of Allegiance to the Queen on the day of her Coronation. The Queen has also had the support of her mother Queen Elizabeth, known as "The Queen Mother", who lived to be 101 years old, and stayed very active in her old-age. The Queen is the patron of many organisations and charities. She has many invitations and official duties. Many of the duties have been shared by other members of the Royal Family, who have also become patrons of many organisations. Among the hard-working Royals are her son Charles, Prince of Wales and her daughter, Anne, the Princess Royal, as well as the Queen's cousins, the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Gloucester, Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Alexandra.

File:Trooping the Colour, Saturday June 16th
The Queen and Prince Philip with some of their family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, 2007. On the left is Princess Beatrice, Prince William is talking to Viscount Linley. To the right is the Princes Royal, in Colonel's uniform.

The Queen has had a lot of sadness over the broken marriages and divorces of three of her children, Prince Charles, Princess Anne and Prince Andrew. Prince Charles, to avoid scandal, and because of the position he would one day hold in the Church of England, had difficulty finding a wife who would be acceptable. His marriage to Lady Diana Spencer was thought of as a fairytale wedding because she was young, innocent and beautiful. But it soon became unhappy, and ended in divorce, and in the terrible tragedy of her death in 1997. In the year 2002, within a few months of each other, the Queen's mother and sister Princess Margaret both died.

On April 9, 2005, Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles, whom he had loved for very many years. Their marriage was a "civil ceremony" in the Guildhall at Windsor, which the Queen did not attend. Some people thought that this was a sign that she did not approve. But the marriage was followed by a religious ceremony in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, which the Queen and all the Royal Family attended.

Of the younger members of the family, it is said that the Queen is very close to her daughter-in-law, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, wife of the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward. The Queen has a good relationship with all her grandchildren but particularly Prince William, Princess Beatrice and Zara Phillips.

As the Queen has got older, people have sometimes worried about her health. When she appeared with a plaster on her arm, there was a rumour that she was sick, and needed "intravenous" treatment. But in fact, she had been bitten while stopping her dogs from fighting. The Queen is very rarely sick, but lately, has had some problems with her back. Since her 80th birthday, the Queen is leaving more duties to the younger members of the Royal Family, particularly to Prince Charles, who will one day follow her as the reigning monarch.

Jubilees

File:QE2
Statue of Elizabeth II, on horseback, on Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

Silver Jubilee

In 1977, the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee, marking the 25th anniversary of her coming to the Throne.[34] There was a royal procession in the golden State Coach and a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral. Millions of people watched on television. There were public "street parties" held across the UK. Five commemorative stamps were also printed. The Jubilee line of the London Underground, which opened in 1979, was named in honour of the anniversary.

Golden Jubilee

In 2002, Elizabeth II celebrated her Golden Jubilee, marking the 50th anniversary of her coming to the Throne.[35] The Queen made a tour of the Commonwealth realms. There was the first ever pop concert in the gardens of Buckingham Palace, and a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul's Cathedral. The celebrations were not so big as 25 years earlier, because the Queen's mother and sister had both died that year.

Diamond Wedding Anniversary

The Queen and Prince Philip celebrated their sixtieth (Diamond) wedding anniversary on Monday 19 November 2007, with a special service at Westminster Abbey. The night before, Prince Charles gave a private dinner party at Clarence House for twenty members of the Royal Family.

On the following day, 20 November, The Queen and Prince Philip went off on a visit to Malta, where they had stayed from 1949 to 1951 after getting married. A Royal Navy ship which was nearby, got its sailors to line up on deck, to form a big number '60', for the couple's sixtieth wedding anniversary.

File:Balmoral
Balmoral Castle in Scotland is one of the Queen's homes.

Wealth

It is very hard to estimate the Queen's wealth because she owns several large properties, such as Sandringham House and Balmoral Castle which have never been valued. She also owns a fabulous collection of works of art, which she "holds in trust". This means that she cannot sell them. They belong to "the Crown" but not to Elizabeth as a person. The artworks and the properties are worth billions of pounds.

In 2006, Forbes magazine published an estimate of her personal fortune. They guessed (on evidence) that it was about US$500 million (£280 million).[36]

Titles and styles

The Queen's royal name is Queen Elizabeth II. When someone is talking about her, she is called "The Queen" or "Her Majesty". When someone is talking to her, she is called "Your Majesty". After the first time, the person talking to the Queen can say "Ma'am". It is pronounced "Mam", and is short for "Madam". These are the titles that she has had:

  • 21 April 1926 – 11 December 1936: Her Royal Highness Princess Elizabeth of York
  • 11 December 1936 – 20 November 1947: Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth
  • 20 November 1947 – 6 February 1952: Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth, Duchess of Edinburgh
  • 6 February 1952 – present: Her Majesty The Queen

Issue

Name Birth Marriage Issue Divorce
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales 14 November 1948 29 July 1981 Lady Diana Spencer Prince William of Wales
Prince Harry of Wales
28 August 1996
9 April 2005 Camilla Parker-Bowles
Princess Anne, Princess Royal 15 August 1950 14 November 1973 Mark Phillips Peter Phillips
Zara Phillips
28 April 1992
12 December 1992 Timothy Laurence
Prince Andrew, Duke of York 19 February 1960 23 July 1986 Sarah, Duchess of York Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
30 May 1996
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex 10 March 1964 19 June 1999 Sophie, Countess of Wessex Lady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn

Ancestors

Elizabeth II of the United Kingdoms ancestors in three generations
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom Father:
George VI of the United Kingdom
Paternal Grandfather:
George V of the United Kingdom
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Alexandra of Denmark
Paternal Grandmother:
Mary of Teck
Paternal Great-grandfather:
Francis, Duke of Teck
Paternal Great-grandmother:
Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge
Mother:
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Maternal Grandfather:
Claude Bowes-Lyon, 14th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Claude Bowes-Lyon, 13th Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Frances Dora Smith
Maternal Grandmother:
Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck
Maternal Great-grandfather:
Charles William Frederick Cavendish-Bentinck
Maternal Great-grandmother:
Caroline Louisa Burnaby

List of Commonwealth realms

The Queen has a coat of arms in each of her Realms. In the UK, they are known as the "Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom". Every British monarch has used these arms since the reign of Queen Victoria. There is a separate "Royal Coat of Arms" for use in Scotland, which shows the insignia of the Order of the Thistle.

Queen Elizabeth is:

Other pages

References

File:Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace, 07 Mar
The Queen has received many gifts and honours. At a state banquet at Buckingham palace, she wears the Grand Collar of the Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross and a necklace of Brazilian aquamarines.
  1. Witchell, Nicholas (27 May 2006). "Queen 'Lilibet' letters unveiled". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/5019736.stm. Retrieved 2007. 
  2. Excerpt from The Queen A Biography of Elizabeth II, Pimlott, Ben
  3. Rose, Kenneth.; King George V; Weidenfeld and Nicolson; London, Great Britain; 1983, p389. ISBN 0-297-78245-2
  4. "The Real Crawfie". Channel 4. http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/R/real_lives/crawfie.html. Retrieved 2007. 
  5. "80 Facts About The Queen". British Monarchy Official Website. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page4823.asp. Retrieved 2007. 
  6. "Queen's decision no snub: royal aides". CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2005/02/23/charles-queen050223.html. Retrieved 2005. 
  7. "Biography of HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother: Activities as Queen". British Monarchy Official Website. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page1043.asp. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  8. "Queen Elizabeth II". BBC h2g2. 3 February 2006. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A8466339. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 
  9. "HM Queen Elizabeth - Queen Consort 1936–1952". BBC h2g2. 4 September, 2002. http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A793631. Retrieved 2007. 
  10. Butler, Desmond (8 May 2007). "Queen Elizabeth Wraps Up Whirlwind Tour". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3152873. Retrieved 2007. 
  11. "Royal Insight – Out and About – Founder's Day 2006". British Monarchy Official Website. June 2006. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/page5305.asp. Retrieved 2007. 
  12. Kynaston, David (7 May 2007). Austerity Britain 1945-51. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7475-7985-4. 
  13. An interview with Margaret Rhodes, as part of Channel 4's The Queen's Wedding
  14. Princess Elizabeth (21 April 1947). "Historic speeches: 21st birthday speech". British Monarchy Official Website. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page4098.asp. Retrieved 2007-09-09. 
  15. Ration coupons were dockets given to people by the Government, in war time. People could swap the coupons for food, petrol, or clothing or tobacco. No-one was allowed to have more than their share. When the war ended, some things, such as clothing and cigarettes were still rationed for many years.
  16. Prince of Wales's press office.
  17. Lacey, Robert.; Majesty: Elizabeth II and the House of Windsor; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; New York; Rose, Kenneth.; 1977, p. 150. ISBN 0-15-155684-9
  18. "Canada's New Queen". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-69-70/life_society/new_queen/. Retrieved 2007. 
  19. National Gallery of Australia: By Appointment: Norman Hartnell's sample for the Coronation dress of Queen Elizabeth II
  20. English, Rebecca (20 April 2006). "'The Queen will NEVER consider abdicating'". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=383595&in_page_id=1770. Retrieved 2006. 
  21. http://www.anagrammy.com/misc/queen.html
  22. Challands, Sarah (25 April 2006). "Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 80th birthday". CTV Television Network News. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060418/queen_liz_birthday_060418. Retrieved 2007. 
  23. The Real Queen.
  24. "Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada". Canadian Royal Heritage Trust. http://www.crht.ca/DiscoverMonarchyFiles/QueenElizabethII.html. Retrieved 2007. 
  25. "1964 Quebec visit – speech". CBC. http://archives.cbc.ca/500f.asp?id=1-69-70-236. 
  26. Information supplied by the Royal Household to a parliamentary inquiry into the workings of the monarchy in the early 1970s.
  27. Heinricks, Geoff (Winter/Spring, 2000-01). "Trudeau and the Monarchy". Canadian Monarchist News, reprinted from the National Post. http://www.monarchist.ca/cmn/2001/opinion.htm. 
  28. Irish Independent interview (1977)
  29. Elizabeth II (25 December 2000). "Historic speeches: Christmas Broadcast 2000". British Monarchy Official Website. http://www.royal.gov.uk/output/Page4656.asp. Retrieved 2007. 
  30. On this Day, October 17 1980
  31. "Presidents, Vice Presidents and Board". Council of Christians and Jews. http://www.ccj.org.uk/Presidents.html. Retrieved 2007. 
  32. "Queen 'will do her job for life'". BBC News. 19 April 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4921120.stm. Retrieved 2007. 
  33. "Courage of the Queen". Canadian Royal Heritage Trust. http://www.crht.ca/LibraryShelf/CourageoftheQueen.html. Retrieved 2007. 
  34. 1977 "Queen celebrates Silver Jubilee". BBC News: On This Day. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/7/newsid_2562000/2562633.stm 1977. 
  35. "In Depth: The Golden Jubilee". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk/2002/the_golden_jubilee/. 
  36. "A Birthday Fit for a Queen". Forbes. 18 April 2006. http://www.forbes.com/business/2006/04/17/queen-elizabeth-birthday-cx_cz0418queen.html. 

Further reading

  • Bond, J. (2002). Elizabeth. Reader's Digest Association. ISBN 0-7621-0369-8
  • Erickson, C. (2003). Lilibet : An Intimate Portrait of Elizabeth II. St. Martins Press. ISBN 0-312-28734-8
  • Pimlott, Ben (2002 - revised edition 2007) The Queen: Elizabeth II and the Monarchy. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-007-11436-2
  • Waller, Maureen, "Sovereign Ladies: Sex, Sacrifice, and Power. The Six Reigning Queens of England." St. Martin's Press, New York, 2006. ISBN 0-312-33801-5

Other websites

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